Frontline Science: Pathological conditioning of human neutrophils recruited to the airway milieu in cystic fibrosis

Osric A. Forrest, Sarah A. Ingersoll, Marcela K. Preininger, Julie Laval, Dominique H. Limoli, Milton R. Brown, Frances E. Lee, Brahmchetna Bedi, Ruxana T. Sadikot, Joanna B. Goldberg, Vin Tangpricha, Amit Gaggar, Rabindra Tirouvanziam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Recruitment of neutrophils to the airways, and their pathological conditioning therein, drive tissue damage and coincide with the loss of lung function in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). So far, these key processes have not been adequately recapitulated in models, hampering drug development. Here, we hypothesized that the migration of naïve blood neutrophils into CF airway fluid in vitro would induce similar functional adaptation to that observed in vivo, and provide a model to identify new therapies. We used multiple platforms (flow cytometry, bacteria-killing, and metabolic assays) to characterize functional properties of blood neutrophils recruited in a transepithelial migration model using airway milieu from CF subjects as an apical chemoattractant. Similarly to neutrophils recruited to CF airways in vivo, neutrophils migrated into CF airway milieu in vitro display depressed phagocytic receptor expression and bacterial killing, but enhanced granule release, immunoregulatory function (arginase-1 activation), and metabolic activities, including high Glut1 expression, glycolysis, and oxidant production. We also identify enhanced pinocytic activity as a novel feature of these cells. In vitro treatment with the leukotriene pathway inhibitor acebilustat reduces the number of transmigrating neutrophils, while the metabolic modulator metformin decreases metabolism and oxidant production, but fails to restore bacterial killing. Interestingly, we describe similar pathological conditioning of neutrophils in other inflammatory airway diseases. We successfully tested the hypothesis that recruitment of neutrophils into airway milieu from patients with CF in vitro induces similar pathological conditioning to that observed in vivo, opening new avenues for targeted therapeutic intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)665-675
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Leukocyte Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • AMPK
  • energy metabolism
  • exocytosis
  • inflammation
  • phagocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Frontline Science: Pathological conditioning of human neutrophils recruited to the airway milieu in cystic fibrosis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this